The Suri alpaca is a member of the camelid family, which includes the llama, Huacaya alpaca, the wild vicuna and guanaco, and yes, the camel. The Suri dates back between 5 to 20 thousand years and is known from archaeological records to have been domesticated for 6,000 years.
Among the people of the Andes, the woven fabric from the fleece of the alpaca was so soft and alluring that it was used as currency. The Suri alpaca has unique fiber characteristics that distinguish the Suri from the rest of the camelid family. Unlike the soft fuzzy look of the Huacaya alpaca, the Suri's long, separate, distinctive locks are comprised of twisted or flat fibers that drape down the sides of the Suri's body. The Suri's fiber has a cool, slick hand; soft as cashmere, warmer than wool, with the luster of silk.
The first Suris were imported to the United States from Bolivia in the winter of 1991. Subsequent imports came in 1993, 1995, 1996 and 1998 from Peru, Chile and Bolivia. World wide, Suris account for only about 15% of the total alpaca population and are so rare that there may be fewer of them than the vicuna, the wild ancestor of the alpaca.
Utilizing selective breeding techniques, improved nutrition and animal husbandry, U.S. breeders have significantly advanced the quality of Suri bloodlines and the fiber they produce. Whether you are just an animal lover looking for a hobby or interested in a full breeding livestock operation, the Suri alpaca provides investment opportunities at many levels.
For a person new to alpacas, visiting a Suri alpaca farm is probably the single most productive thing you can do to learn more about these wonderful creatures.
You are encouraged to find a farm(s) near you to visit. Contact a breeder and make an
appointment to visit; let them know what you are interested in. Dress casually - you'll be on a farm - and be prepared to ask many questions. Breeders are happy to answer them all.
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